I recently was asked to shoot a really cool project close to home on the New Hampshire Seacoast for The Nature Conservancy (TNC) that took a look at their successful aquaculture program called Supporting Oyster Aquaculture and Restoration (SOAR.) My colleague Ryan Smith and I spent four days on New Hampshire’s Little Bay and Great Bay in late October shooting stills and video of local oyster farmers and TNC scientists as they harvested, sorted, and redeployed oysters to a restoration site in the bay.
2 years ago, the New Hampshire chapter of TNC experimented with buying “uglies”, oysters too big for the restaurant market, from local oyster farmers and using them to seed a restoration site near Nanny Island in Great Bay (one of the largest inland estuaries in New England.) Results from the project were very positive.
Cut to 2020 and oysters farmers are struggling because their biggest market – restaurants – are experiencing greatly reduced sales and/or closing because of the Covid-19 pandemic. The success of the New Hampshire chapter’s experiment led to the creation of SOAR which aims to extend $2 million to approximately 100 oyster farming companies over the next two years in New England, the Mid-Atlantic, and Washington state.
The program is a boon to oyster farmers who are losing significant income during Covid-19, and it will greatly aid oyster reef restoration, helping to keep waters clean in multiple estuaries (each oyster can filter 50 gallons of water a day.) This is a great conservation program with really no downside. It’s getting some good press too. The Today show sent Harry Smith to New Hampshire to produce a feature about the program in October – you can see it here: https://www.today.com/food/tnc-supporting-oyster-farmers-affected-covid-19-today-t195668. And WHDH channel 7 in Boston aired a feature last week: https://whdh.com/news/nh-group-buys-back-unsold-oysters-to-filter-coastal-water/.
Here’s the final video produced that Ryan and I filmed and TNC edited:
This was a great shoot to be a part of – super interesting subject matter, cool people to work with, boats and docks and rubber boots – all in a great landscape. I’m really looking forward to the next one of these!
Update: Here’s a link to a story in the PEW magazine: https://www.pewtrusts.org/en/trust/archive/winter-2021/noteworthy
I hope you are having a safe and mentally healthy alternate reality holiday season!
P.S. If you’re into the fisherman aesthetic, check out a gallery of images from a working waterfront project I shot for the state of Maine in 2016.